'Fortnite' ads have been yanked from YouTube after they featured on videos that acted like a 'network for pedophiles'

Fortnite CoverFortnite/Epic GamesEpic Games paused pre-roll advertising on YouTube.Fortnite/Epic Games

  • The publisher of "Fortnite" suspended its pre-roll ads on YouTube after it was revealed that they were being featured on videos that acted like a "network for pedophiles."
  • YouTuber Matt Watson described a "wormhole" in which YouTube's algorithm was recommending videos of young girls.
  • The comment sections on these videos appeared to be a meeting place for pedophiles, who time-stamped compromising moments and exchanged contact details.
  • Wired also investigated the videos, and found they had been monetized with advertising for "Fortnite" along with other major brands.
  • A YouTube spokesman told Business Insider that the platform "took immediate action" on the videos.

Epic Games, the publisher behind the wildly popular battle-royale game "Fortnite," suspended its pre-roll advertising on YouTube after its ads were being featured on suggestive videos of young girls, Wired reports.

A video by YouTuber Matt Watson recently pointed out that YouTube's algorithm was prompting users down a "wormhole" of inappropriate content showing young girls.

He said the algorithm continually directs users towards similar videos, which had racked up hundreds of thousands of or even over a million views and seemingly amassed an audience of pedophiles.

Wired conducted its own investigation into the videos, which included girls doing gymnastics, playing Twister, and playing in pools. It found some of the videos had millions of views.

Comments underneath the videos seemed to show a ring of people congregating, often leaving timestamps marking moments in the videos where the childrens' exposed genitals or nipples can be seen.

Wired found that they sometimes exchanged WhatsApp or Kik details, promising to send each other more videos. It said it looked like a "network of pedophiles is hiding in plain sight."

Read more: YouTube failed to take down live videos of child exploitation after they were flagged to moderators

Watson originally pointed out that some of these videos were being monetized, and featured adverts from major brands including Disney. Wired found pre-roll adverts for Alfa Romeo, Fiat, "Fortnite," Grammarly, L'Oreal, Maybelline, Metro: Exodus, Peloton and SingleMuslims.com.

A spokesperson for Epic Games told Wired that it had suspended all pre-roll advertising on YouTube. "Through our advertising agency, we have reached out to YouTube to determine actions they'll take to eliminate this type of content from their service," they added.

When contacted by Business Insider, a YouTube spokesman said: "Any content - including comments - that endangers minors is abhorrent and we have clear policies prohibiting this on YouTube.

"We took immediate action by deleting accounts and channels, reporting illegal activity to authorities and disabling violative comments. There's more to be done, and we continue to work to improve and catch abuse more quickly."

Epic Games was not immediately able to respond when contacted by Business Insider.

Here's YouTuber Matt Watson's video in full:

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